Ken Manz, at The Urban Blog, even though he lives in Seattle, has been writing a lot about the Reno/Carson area lately. One of the latest ideas that he’s pushing is the idea of “NVNW Metro”, that all of northwest Nevada, including Reno, Carson, Douglas, Dayton, even Fernley, Fallon and Yerington, should start thinking of themselves as one big metro area, and start looking to how their futures and growth are linked together. He’s looking at the major cities being connected together by freeways and trains, and he’s even drawn up an “Annual Report” for the year 2025, looking back at all the growth that’s going to happen over the next 20 years.
A lot of the need for this rises from the growth in Las Vegas. “Las Vegas” is actually made up of several smaller cities sprinkled around the Las Vegas Valley, but the fact that they’re all located right next to each other makes them function as one group when regional planning issues come up. But in northern Nevada, all the cities are separated by mountains, and the population is spread out over four or five different valleys. So Las Vegas politicans don’t understand why Reno, with a population of only 200,000, needs another freeway. Don’t they have enough? But all these cities are linked, just the same as all the cities in the Las Vegas area are. Dayton is little more than a bedroom community for Carson City, and many people who live in Carson work in Reno and vice versa. So it makes sense for all these cities to work together to make sure we’re taken care of. The I-580 freeway that’s being built now is one facet of this. It’s pretty amazing that there still isn’t a full freeway connecting Carson City to Reno, that all traffic has to pass through the congested Washoe City and Pleasant Valley areas, and even has to stop at a stoplight at Mt. Rose Highway. Ken compares it to not having a freeway between Las Vegas and Henderson, unimaginable in this day and age.
So the Reno-Carson freeway shouldn’t be the end of the road. Over the next 20 years the population is going to grow enough that Hwy 50 needs to be turned into a freeway out at least as far as the Dayton Valley, possibly even further as Dayton real estate prices keep rising and people find themselves having to buy land in Stagecoach. And I’ve been pretty vocal lately about the need for a freeway in the Carson Valley, to manage all the growth that’s happening in Johnson Lane and the Ranchos.
None of these communities are isolated, so we’ve all got to start working together and thinking of ourselves as one big metro area. There are many people, I’m sure, who work in Minden, shop in Reno, and run errands in Carson. Sometimes all in the same day. Our roads have to be able to handle all this.
And Ken’s The Urban Blog should be on your required reading list too. Go check it out.
Thanks for the mention! I’m glad the idea is spreading. One thing I would add to your otherwise spot on summary of the difference between Reno and Vegas on a macro level: The growth up north is not just spread out over 4 or 5 valleys. It is spread out over 4 or 5 counties. When “Las Vegas” wants to do something, Clark County makes it happen. Hence they were able to build the 215 freeway from scratch connecting hundreds of thousands of people and using no state money to do it, because it was all in the same county. Up north there is no agreed upon approach that can be used every time, to get things done between the counties.